Posted by: admin in: Comics
How did you decide to become a drawer/cartoonist?
You probably know, how in every classroom there is a kid, who draws all the time, and other children come and ask: please would you draw a submarine, would you draw a horse… i was the one. So, from the age of seven, i was the one who illustrated the schoolclass magazines and such. And i was lucky enough to learn to read at the same time that Lucky Luke and AstÃ©rix came to Finland, Tintin had started a little earlier. My parents would buy them to me, especially my father who was a big fan of comics himself (of course his favourites were the comics he used to read in the 1940′s – Jim Gary’s and Zane Grey’s Canadian Mounted comic “King of the Royal Mounted” and Elzie Segar’s “Popeye the Sailor”). We also read Aku Ankka, which is edited to probably a little wider and older audience than the French equivalent, Picsou.
So i really had no option. All the things i wanted to do were just different aspects of telling stories – drawing, writing and writing songs. And what could be a better medium to combine it all than comics? I tried maybe 50 different jobs that didn’t work out, or rather became the material that my stories are made out of.
Was it a difficult choice to make? Why?
No, the job found me. By the time i finally ended up in University of Industrial Arts, i had already worked two years in an animation studio and published some 1000 pages. When i quit the University, i was doing a weekly comics page and working on several albums.
Is there a school / high school for comic strip drawers?
No, not really. But most universities and institutes for graphic design include classes for aspiring comics artists. And of course special courses for comics “pro’s” take place in Open University for Industrial Arts or similar places. Some of those have been very good, i personally liked especially Will Eisner’s and MÃ©zierÃ¨s & Christin’s workshops.
But as in all art, the best education is when you learn to see. And i’m not too certain it’s something that can really be taught, although teaching naturally helps. But if the ability to tell stories already exists, then it’s not a difficult task to learn to draw sufficiently – think about Don Rosa (Donald Duck) or Scott Adams (Dilbert) – they really can’t draw but they can tell stories, and that’s more than enough.
How do people consider comic strip in Finland?
I really don’t know, it depends so much of where you are and who you ask. At least everyone reads Donald Duck – 30% of Finns read it weekly. And some Finnish strips have made it, too – Juba’s “Viivi ja Wagner”, Ilkka HeilÃ¤’s “B. Virtanen” and Sillantaus, Rosse & Gylling’s “Naisen kanssa”.
What comic strip/artists did have a major influence on your work?
I think AndrÃ© Franquin’s “Spirou & Fantasio”, Hugo Pratt’s “Corto Maltese” (Sous le signe du Capricorne was a revelation to me), Didier ComÃ¨s “La Belette” and “Silence” and of course Carl Barks’ Donald Duck -stories have been the most important. And there was also a young Finnish comics artist in 1980′s, Veli Ahonen, whose works were very original.
Do you still read comic strip? Which ones?
Yes i do. But not in newspapers, no. But i do follow comics, especially from small publishers like l’Association, Drawn&Quarterly and Fantagraphics. To read for instance Lewis Trondheim’s work makes me regain my faith in comics – he’s so very good.
How could you present your work to our readers?
Oh, i think “he writes true, sad and fun stories of daily life, that are like a good rock album in illustrated form – more on the lines of Velvet Underground than Phil Collins, though” would do. Would it?
Has your work been translated yet?
Very little, i’m afraid. One short collection in english, something in Swedish and less than ten pages in French. A french-translated two-pager can be found in B.D.@FI -anthology.
What are your current and future projects?
I’m in the middle of an 8-page comics story, about what democracy is and how it affects our daily life. It’s going to be quite fun. I promised it to be finished this week, so that’s why i’m so keen on anwering these questions – there’s nothing like a good excuse to avoid working:-)
Do you think that internet is the future medim for comic strip?
No, i don’t think so. A paperless office they promised us is producing more paper than ever, when everybody has to print their own copies. And printed form is lightweight, doesn’t hurt your eyes, is easily transportable and easy to approach. But do i think the comics magazine is becoming more of an “object of art”? Yes, it has to. It has to compete not only against cheaper forms of reproduction, but also to such cheaper forms of distribution as internet (cheap being used relatively – after all, the end-user pays quite a lot for the machines and information transport, but not the publisher).
Do you still work with a pencil and a paper or have you replaced them by a computer?
Yes, a brush, a pen and a bottle of ink. I scan most of my works myself, though, and send them to publisher in electric form, but that’s only because i’m quite conscious of the quality – and not losing my originals, too, of course. I can and do colour my comics by computer, though.
What is your favorite movie?
There’s so many of them, and the only thing in common is they’re all black and white. “Ashes and diamonds” (or whatever the name really is in Polish) by Andrzej Wajda is probably the favourite.
What is your favorite comic strip?
Ouch! I really don’t know. Whatever that makes me think. Could be Swamp Thing by Alan Moore, could be Sandman by Neil Gaiman, could be any of the autobiographical albums by Baru…
What is your most precious object?
My wife? My cats? Or something more material – like my late 1960′s Marshall JMP amplifier, that Jimi Hendrix may have used while touring Finland, or more probably – maybe not. Nobody really knows, and that’s what makes it special. It didn’t cost any extra to what a second hand amp costs.
What is your favorite bar/restaurant?
Of restaurants – there is a small place in Lauttasaari, Helsinki, which has very good moderately priced food and well selected and moderately priced wines. Don’t remember the name, but ask anyone, it’s well known but not so popular as not to be comfortable.
Of bars – any place that serves good beer, does not have background music, and tolerates customers playing board games.